Sitting at the airport in Philadelphia, I suddenly started to panic. Coming to the realization that I was not going to John Brown University, I was leaving my comfort zone. My thoughts raced to the huge city of Quito, Ecuador where I was headed. The people in that country didn’t even speak my language! I began to question what I was doing, and if I really wanted to go.
I arrived at the airport in Quito Tuesday night, September 4, and the beauty of the city took my breath way. My breath was literally taken away as I stepped into the city, as Quito is at an altitude of 10,000 feet and I was out of breath just walking from the airport to the car, especially carrying a 50- pound suitcase!
Phil Payne, the director of the Living and Learning program, was very kind and sensitive to my weariness as he drove me to the apartment for my semester abroad. Apartment living is a new experience for me, as I’m not used to living with nine other girls and cooking on my own. Don’t ask how I recently ruined the chicken nuggets I was making.
The apartment is in the nicer part of town, but we still have to be careful as petty theft is common. The trolley is our main source of transportation and is definitely an experience. Everyone aboard is packed in like sardines, and has to push through everyone else to get on or off the trolley.
During the first week, we had orientation on the culture of Ecuador and the city life of Quito. We participated in exciting activities such as riding a bus to the center of the earth, and zip-lining through the jungle!
Of course, it’s not all fun and games. During the first month we have an intensive three hour long Spanish class each day. The class is taught entirely in Spanish, so it can be a challenge. I’ll also be taking classes such as Spiritual Formation and Ecuador History, Politics and Culture. It’s interesting to learn new customs, including having to throw away your toilet paper instead of flushing it!
This program also includes student internships in your field of study, and living with host families. I’ll be starting my internship at HCJB radio at the end of the month, and will be moving into my “home-stay” in October.
Two years ago while visiting JBU, I read a brochure about studying abroad in Ecuador and now that has become a reality in my life. This semester I desire to experience this beautiful culture, so that I can love the people of Ecuador as God loves them. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord: and he will give the desires of your heart.” My desires are becoming more like his desires. I’m thankful for this experience to learn and grow outside of my comfort zone as I try to love these people as he shines through me.